Magnetic resonance (MR) imaging has been widely used in the clinic because of the benefit of high spatial and temporal resolution, and the excellent anatomical tissue contrast. Cancer-targeted MR molecular imaging comprises 3 major components: a relevant molecular target which is specifically highly expressed on the membrane of the cancer cell; a target specific imaging probe which is composed of superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticle coreconjugated target specific ligand such as antibody, peptide, and molecules; MR imaging hardware and software which are sensitive to the imaging probe. Among the various molecular targets, HER2/neu receptor antibody, folic acid, and arginine-glycine-aspartic acid (RGD) are well known targeting ligands. The sensitivity of the cancer-targeted MR imaging is affected by the magnetic susceptibility of the T2 contrast agent, resolution of the image, targeting efficiency of the imaging probe, and image acquisition pulse sequence. Recently, successful cancer-targeted MR imaging with T1 contrast agent and cancer-specific molecular MR imaging using innate contrast of the cancer cell by chemical exchange phenomenon without using the imaging probe has been introduced. Cancer-targeted MR molecuar imaging is a robust diagnostic method to detect cancer at the cellular stage of the cancer development and it would help improve early detection rate of the cancer.
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